The Fear Ratio :: Refuge Of A Twisted Soul (Skam)

A creepy, dark collection of soundscapes and minor, skeletal melodies stretched out over sparse beats.

The Fear Ratio :: Refuge Of A Twisted Soul (Skam)

One thing I love about writing reviews is that as a musician another musician’s work is a great way to reflect upon my own. Some albums even make me reconsider my own approaches, which is not surprising but it’s harder and harder to come by these days as we are deluged with new music minute by minute.

The Fear Ratio’s Refuge Of A Twisted Soul is a welcome entry into the realm of dark techno / broken beat which seems to have fallen somewhat out of favor these days (composed by James Ruskin and Mark Broom). It’s highly reminiscent of established artists while at the same time covering new ground. This is not a bad thing because not every good release needs to sound as if it’s emerged from virgin birth, free of influences and familiar tags. You’ll hear elements of Autechre, Deadbeat, Scorn, Plastikman, PsiPerformer and others but it doesn’t diminish the experience in the least.

“Blood Soldiers” opens up with bludgeoning drums and a pitched down sample like some mutant hip-hop on a grimy club dance floor then takes you into the gloom with a swirling synth arpeggio. Doom laden drums powered by an 808 kick propel you into the subterranean realms this album was made for. “Sect’s” bopping arpeggio’s are like something Meat Beat Manifesto might produce but the screwed and chopped, glitchy reordering of it makes for a decidedly unsettling listen. Effects are used wisely here with a minimum of dub by reverb and delay washing out the drums occasionally, which are a simple kick and snare pattern augmented by occasional hi-hat’s. “Cam” sounds like an exercise in slow decay or Autechre deciding to keep the weird to a minimum (this being a SKAM release Sirs Booth & Brown could very well be on this album). The drums are steady and strong through the track while throbbing synths and harmonized delays create a disorienting effect in the ears and mind like one too many Robitussin shots. “Cycles” works similarly, taking a longer approach with thudding drums and stuttering synth-castanets tapping out a garbled message on sheets of glassy, reverb-drenched synths. “Blackboard Jungle’s” flatulent, digeridoo-like intro gives way to a hiphop workout like a fever dream-ridden Timbaland remixing Deadbeat with breathy gasps and coughs, the perfect soundtrack to a fight scene in a TB ward. “Era’s” lead line is reminiscent of “I Want You” by Cabaret Voltaire but takes the tempo down slow while ratcheting up the anxiety with scratchy pickings at a digital guitar sample.

It tales a steady hand to do a lot with very little. One can easily tip the sparseness into boring just as too much can overrun a simple idea. The Fear Ratio uses only a few elements in each song deftly creating an atmosphere with drums, simple effects and two or three synth parts. The album builds in a steady progression which is rare these days where almost every album sounds like a collection of singles sequenced together. Refuge Of A Twisted Soul is a creepy, dark collection of soundscapes and minor, skeletal melodies stretched out over sparse beats. Perfect for a rainy night drive or late night forays into the digital depths of the darker parts of the internet or your mind.

Refuge Of A Twisted Soul is available on Skam.

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